This photo of the bridge at the Old Den brings back some memories. Back in March 1986 I went to Millwall to watch the Blades. We travelled down on a very plush double decker coach, it had a television AND a toilet, the height of luxury eh! Unfortunately for us when we got to Millwall it couldn’t fit under the bridge so the police directed us to park up on a council estate about a mile from the ground. Well, when we got off it was like world war three.
There was a bit of previous going on you see. This was the first game between Millwall and the Blades since a coach load of Millwall had visited Sheffield City Centre one Saturday night on their way home after a trip up North. Not surprisingly it had all kicked off and in the ensuing trouble a young Millwall fan fell and hit his head. Sadly he died later in hospital.
The police mindful of trouble for this fixture had diverted United coaches around the M25 and into South-East London via a ‘secret’ route in order to avoid flash points. Of course their plan to avoid trouble got royally cocked up when they parked our coach in the middle of a Millwall housing estate.
We disembarked and set off for the ground, a human convoy of about 50 to 60 Blades, one copper at the front, one at the back. We were getting all sorts pegged at us, bricks, lumps of concrete, old kettles, bags of p|ss, the lot. Millwall fans were running into us and chinning folk left, right and centre, the bobbies thought it was hilarious. Welcome to Millwall they said!
After the game as were were driving through London our coach was attacked by a load of Millwall fans who, if my memory serves, steamed out of a tube station a few miles from the Den. All the windows on the bottom deck were put through and we had to travel back up the M1 with the wind whistling through the coach.
Ten days later United played at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough. There was trouble during the match including a pitch invasion by both sets of fans at the final whistle with some scrapping on the pitch. After the match our coach, operated by the same company that had taken us down to Millwall, again had it’s windows put through. The coach firm involved were understandly quite upset at this damage to their vehicles and after having two coaches done over in less than two weeks refused to run travel for Blades fans on future away trips.
The good old days eh? A world away from the match going experience enjoyed by fans today.